Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

A group of scientists investigate a deadly new alien virus before it can spread.

Science fiction in the full sense of the word: an instant classic! Its aesthetics, especially the split-screen, may seem a bit dated, but they do fit the topic well.

On renewed view: still enjoy watching this science fiction classic.

Halliwell**: "Solemn and over-detailed but generally suspenseful thriller, with a sense of allegory about man's inhumanity to man."

Maltin**1/2: "Overlong sci-fi thriller..."

Who's That Girl?

Art: Max Ernst

Eilika Meckbach

ph: Cybele Malinowski

A day in the life, Jun 22

A day in the life, Jun 22, lonesome cone

Chrystal Copland

ph: Silja Magg

New York

Aerial view of New York City, looking north, on December   16, 1951

Lily Cole

ph: Signe Vilstrup

First Lines: Peter Lovesey - The False Inspector Dew


Gina Lollobrigida

A day in the life, Jun 21

A day in the life, Jun 21, islands on the parking lot

Annie McGinty

New Stuff: The New Yorker

(art: Chris Ware)

Caterina Ravaglia

ph: Giovanni Gastel

Tarantula (1955)

A spider escapes from an isolated desert laboratory experimenting in giantism and grows to tremendous size as it wreaks havoc on the local inhabitants.

Classic 50s monster movie is still fun and in so many ways much better than its present-day clones.

On renewed view: I still enjoy this movie, one of the best B pictures ever, and a favourite from my childhood on.

Halliwell  (no star): "Moderate monster hokum with the desert setting which became a cliche; the grotesque faces are more horrific than the spider, which seldom seems to touch the ground."

Maltin ***: "One of the best giant-insect films, with fast-pacing, convincing special effects, and interesting subplot detailing formula's effect on humans. That's Clint Eastwood as the jet squadron leader in final sequence."

Kasia Krol

ph: Nadya Filatova

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Stuff: Lynyrd Skynyrd

I must admit: till now I never owned a Lynyrd Skynyrd album...

Rudie McCree

Final Destination 5 (2011)

Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there's no way you can cheat Death.
More of the same; if you like to see imaginative death scenes, it'll entertain you.
Maltin**1/2: "More of the same, only slightly different...Director Quale and scriptwriter Eric Heisserer revitalize the 11-year-old series with crafty fake-outs, unsettling surprises, and genuine suspense while setting up the interlocking happenstances that lead to violent demises. In a perfect world, this sequel's ingeniously nasty and darkly ironic payoff would provide suitable closure for the entire franchise."

Anoushka Ladewig

ph: Steve Tanchel

New Stuff: Babymetal

Surprisingly good mix of J-Pop and Heavy Metal, very entertaining.

Madalina Copka

Shadow Dancer (2012)

In 1990s Belfast an active member of the IRA becomes an informant for MI5 in order to protect her son's welfare.

Intense, well made with a good cast, the movie doesn't really add any new insight into the North Ireland conflict.

Maltin**1/2: "Good direction and acting, especially by Riseborough, but slow and studied, with snatches of dry suspense."

Lily Donaldson

New Stuff: Hubble's Universe

For a while now I have been wanting to get a volume with photos from the Hubble telescope.

Who's That Girl?

Photographer: Michelle Fennel

Sunday, June 21, 2015

First Lines: Margery Allingham - The Tiger in the Smoke

'It may be only blackmail,' said the man in the taxi hopefully.

Tamara Hatlaczki

ph: Jolijn Snijders

R.I.P. Ornette Coleman

There have been quite a few artists in my life I have admired intensely, but only a few I would have considered to be my heroes. Ornette Coleman was certainly one of them.

I was still a teenager and only slowly educating myself about music. One of my most important references was the German Rocklexikon, a mid 70s rock dictionary that I still own (and its later updates). The book did not only describe rock musicians and bands but also artists from other musical genres of importance. There was a column on Ornette Coleman, of course, and not only that. in the authors' list of 100 must-have records they listed his 1971 Science Fiction album.

So, at the age of 15 I bought my very first jazz album: Ornette Coleman's Science Fiction (which I still have in my collection to this day - I have been told it's a collectible of value by now)! I still don't know why this particular record was recommended. While there certainly is hardly such a thing as a 'bad' album by Ornette Colemen, one would pick different oness as an introduction to this artist's work. Science Fiction, like it's title, is way out there, and I truly had a hard time as an uninitiated teenager to grasp the intricacies of the compositions. Free jazz it certainly is.

I don't know too many people who like jazz (or innovative music, for that matter), and those who do are mostly friends of my age. Most people will say they can enjoy jazz a bit, but they 'hate' free jazz. At one of my dinner parties my guests mentioned just that, so my pal and I decided to play them some early Ornette Coleman, who is famed as the inventor of free jazz and who was confronted with hate and aversion for his music from begin on. To our amazement the whole party (about 10 people) disagreed that this was free jazz at all, but rather plain and simple 'normal' jazz.

The surprising insight I got form that evening is that you cannot underestimate Ornette Coleman's influence on contemporary music. It has forever changed everybody's perception of music; even those among us who may have never heard of him nevertheless have accepted his shift in what we consider 'harmonious' music. Around 1960 and well into the 70s, people (jazz experts included) would cringe at the tunes of Coleman's earliest albums; nowadays, hardly anyone understands what the fuss was all about.

This is not to say that Ornette Coleman's music is no longer challenging; the Science Fiction album was already further advanced than his first recordings and he never stopped going on. In the 70s with his Prime Time combo he started playing with electrified instruments instigating the No Wave (sometime also called free funk or punk jazz, among many other monikers) which instantly ridiculed the popular jazz rock attempts of that time. Every new Coleman was a new phase and always surprising up to today.

To me Ornette Coleman has been an example of what I consider the perfect artist: a man with an aesthetic vision all his own and breaking all the rules and incorruptibly pursuing his own path against all obstacles.

In August 2009 my pal and I finally had the luck to see him play live at the Austrian jazz festival in Saalfelden, which now seems to have been one of his last performances. Even at the age of nearly 80 he was still able to thrill and awe. Ornette Coleman was my very first starting point to the world of jazz - and innovative music - and since then his music has been the milestone for me to appreciate music in general.

Timea Pampuk

ph: Phoebe Wong

A day in the life, Jun 19

A day in the life, Jun 19, standing outside looking inside

Bogi Safran

Thunder Road (1958)

A veteran comes home from the Korean War to the mountains and takes over the family moonshining business.

Offbeat crime thriller, slow-paced, well-played, and with a touch of Noir.

Halliwell*: "Downbeat but actionful crime melodrama with an unusual background and plenty of car chases."

Maltin***:"...cult favorite that even today continues to play in drive-ins; for many this remains the definitive moonshine picture. Jim Mitchum makes screen debut playing Bob's brother; the elder Mitchum got a hit record out of the title tune, which he also wrote!" 

Hedy Lamarr

New Stuff: The Wire

Who's That Girl?

Art: Alain Gourdon